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Energy plan has saved school system $1 million
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Eric Harris, energy education coordinator for the Effingham County Board of Education  announced that the school system has passed the $1 million dollar mark in energy savings as of this month.

“The school board showed some fantastic foresight in 2007 when they began to focus more attention on energy conservation,” said Harris. “And the faculty and staff of Effingham County schools have been great about doing their part to save this money.”

According to Harris, the savings from the school system has done fantastic things for the environment as well.  The schools have prevented the release of 7453 metric tons of CO2 into the air. This is equivalent to taking 1,338 cars off the road or planting 190,625 trees and growing them for 10 years.

When asked how the school system saved $1 million dollars in energy costs, Harris provided the following list of actions:

• They have carefully controlled the scheduling of air conditioning in all of the schools. Principals or their designee have called or e-mailed for any extra air that they require through the school year. They have now learned that if they don’t let someone know then they will not have AC.

• Teachers have changed their behavior and now turn off lights when they are not in their classrooms.

• Teachers and staff are putting forth a concentrated effort to keep exterior doors and windows shut when air conditioning or heat is running in the building.

• The systems maintenance crews are focused on keeping our current equipment running at peak efficiency and also replacing any failing equipment with the most energy efficient products.

• The system has a raised awareness of technologies that will help us continue to save money as we expand in our growing county. The newly designed Career Academy is planning to be the first LEED Gold certified building in Effingham County.

Harris said system employees have also become more conscientious about saving energy in their own homes.  

“Employees and people in the community that have heard about my position and our savings ask me how they can save this much money at home,” he said.

In response, Harris suggests purchasing a programmable thermostat so the home is not being heated or cooled when no one is home.

He is also promoting something available on the Effingham County School System Web site in conjunction with Good Steward Software.

GreenQuest is a FREE personal energy information Web site. This is different from the Energy Direct information that Georgia Power gives it consumers.

“By entering your energy bill amounts and general information about your home into GreenQuest’s secure server, this program provides graphical representations of a home’s energy use and will show you directly where your money is going for electricity, water, and natural gas consumption,” said Harris.  “It will also compare your house with other GreenQuest users in similar sized houses in your community, and will even give you a personal ENERGY STAR rating. If you use this for your small business you will be well on your way to applying for your ENERGY STAR rating and certificate from the Environmental Protection Agency. Just a quick trip to will give you more information.”